Along with six Greenpeace volunteers, the New Zealand actress occupied the Shell-chartered Noble Discoverer in New Plymouth in February 2012 in a move that captured headlines around the world.
Speaking outside Taranaki District Court, Lawless said:
“We are proud to have taken part in our attempt to stop Shell’s reckless plans to drill for oil in the pristine Arctic.
“Since we occupied the Noble Discoverer, it has become evident to everyone watching, from the millions who have signed Greenpeace petitions to the US Government now examining Shell’s plans, that it can never be safe to drill in the Arctic.
“Shell’s Arctic programme has cost them billions and it’s now regarded as an eye-wateringly expensive failure.
“Let’s embrace clean energy; we’re going to have to anyway, so why not do it before they cause a major oil spill in the Arctic, and consign our grandchildren to an uncertain and dangerous world?”
Lawless and six others climbed the drilling tower of the Noble Discoverer on February 24, 2012 while it was moored in Port Taranaki. All were arrested after a 77-hour occupation of the tower. An eighth person was arrested on the first day of the operation. The ship had been working off the Taranaki coast and was preparing for the first stage of its trip to the Arctic.
Besides Lawless, the others sentenced today were Raoni Hammer from Lyttleton, Mike Buchanan from Diamond Harbour, Shayne Comino from Lyttleton, Viv Hadlow from Auckland, Shai Naides from Spain, Zach Penman from Hamilton and Ilai Amir from Auckland.
Additionally they were ordered to pay a total of NZ$5210 in reparation to the Port of Taranaki. The court declined to entertain Shell's claims for damages totalling about NZ$650,000 which the lawyer for the group, Ron Mansfield, said was “excessive and unjustified.”
- In July the Noble Discoverer slipped anchor in the sheltered waters of Dutch Harbor, Alaska;
- In November the engine of the drill ship caught fire as it returned to Dutch Harbor, and had to be put out by specialist fire crews;
- In December it was revealed that the oil spill containment system that Shell was supposed to have on-site in the Arctic was badly damaged in September testing. A Federal Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement representative said that the sub-sea capping stack was “crushed like a beer can”.
- On 31 December, Shell's sister Arctic drilling oil rig, the Kulluk, ran aground off the coast of Alaska whilst being towed back to harbour in Seattle. It had hit heavy weather in the Gulf of Alaska a few days earlier which caused the 400ft towing line to break and the rig to drift free;
- In January 2013 Shell were cited by the US Environmental Protection Agency for violating its air pollution permits for both drill vessels;
- Also in January, the US Government launched a review of Shell's drilling plans in the Arctic.
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